Government's lack of urgency at odds with its commitment to support the most vulnerable in addressing climate impacts and nature loss

Press release, 16 March 2021
In response to the UK government's Integrated Review of security, defence, development and foreign policy, IIED director Andrew Norton said:

"While we welcome the government's promise, restated in the House of Commons today, to restore overseas aid spending to 0.7% of gross national income (as soon as the fiscal situation permits), we are seeking reassurance that this signals a real commitment to poorer countries which thus cements the UK's position as a world leader in international development and a moral force for good.  

"If this is not the case, the government risks alienating many countries at exactly the time when UK 'soft power' is most needed in the run-up to the critical COP26 climate negotiations later this year. It is not clear yet where the bulk of the cuts in UK aid will fall this year, but the drastic reduction in humanitarian aid to Yemen announced earlier this month is a troubling signal in terms of the UK’s commitment to supporting marginalised and vulnerable people.

"We welcome the recognition in the review of the interlinked challenge of tackling climate change and preserving biodiversity as being the top international priority in the coming decade. It is vital for the UK to partner ever more closely with the most progressive countries who are driving climate ambition – whether that is the European Union or the least developed countries. 

"Allowing ODA to fall this year, even when climate finance is protected, holds the risk of being seen as isolationist in a year when the UK could demonstrate authentic leadership of both the G7 and COP26. 

"The coronavirus pandemic has shown us that we are all part of a global community and true 'levelling up' means continuing to fight inequality across the world, in the UK's interests as well as those of the least developed countries."

Media enquiries

For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Fiona Bewers, IIED's press manager, on +44 (0) 7503 643 332 or email fiona.bewers@iied.org